By Tracy Pham
When a sociopath recklessly waves a gun around, he or she is not entirely to blame for who gets hurt. Naturally, that person initiated the situation and was aware of the consequences, but the general public and terrified citizens overlooked the source: the gun. Where did the gun come from? How did a criminal or mentally deranged individual manage to get access to a gun? The people who made the gun did not pull the trigger, but they are responsible for their choice in customers. In the article “Making a Killing,” Evan Osnos discusses and shares personal experiences and opinions of armed citizens, politicians, and other opinionated participants. For instance, Osnos manipulates a former marketer of Smith & Wesson’s comment to reveal that companies are well aware of how convicts obtain their weapons. The overall purpose of his writing is to emphasize how influential the gun business is, socially and politically. Fortunately, a gun manufacturer’s alarming amount of influence on the issue of gun control can be redirected into developing a solution. However, there is not only one solution. To control distribution and regulation of guns more efficiently, the whole nation should attack the industry through cooperation between citizens, politicians, and distributors, to add and enforce safety features, increase a company’s liability, and manage/supervise political and social advertising.
Manufacturers and organizations such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) constantly ignore, and even fight the public’s concern with a gun’s design. For example, “smarter” guns were designed only to react to its owner. Consequently, unlicensed users, such as children, would not be able to fire a smart gun. A few distributors acknowledge the new solution, but the NRA discredit those pro-smart gun manufacturers, in an attempt to protest and stop this advancement. Osnos revealed “on the day the deal went public the N.R.A denounced Smith & Wesson as ‘the first gun maker to run up the white flag of surrender’. It released Shultz’s phone number, and encouraged members to complain” (2016). Anti-smart gun participants achieve their selfish goal by misleading the public into questioning the actuality and effectiveness of the technology. Manufacturers also promote absurd conspiracies about the technology’s relation to government privacy invasion. These red herrings distract citizens, scaring them into buying more guns and emphasizing that “there is no greater freedom than the right to survive and protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns, and handguns we want”. These spokespeople are blatantly attempting to persuade terrified citizens. Despite the NRA’s unevidenced claims, the addition of safety features are practical with growing technical breakthroughs and availability of resources.
Gun features may be the only concern manufacturers have. An article by Jill Jusko, written in 2011, reveals that New York’s top court determined that gun manufacturers cannot be held accountable for any alleged negligent marketing and distribution. This ruling creates many disadvantages for both pro and anti gun individuals. On one hand, former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders explains his reason to support New York’s verdict: “It has a section which says we should not be selling ammunition which will pierce policemen’s armor and protection. I think that’s the right thing”. So even though people can not directly sue companies for any alleged negligence, the specific conditions they must follow will pressure them into focusing on their current rules and regulations.
On the other hand, if this case had lost, gun manufacturers would be responsible for any alleged negligence. In which case, plaintiffs would constantly sue the industry causing devastation to a business’s finance, damaging the economy and those local, family owned distributors.
Another issue includes target advertising, as shown by Osnos. Although it is illegal to directly sponsor guns on TV or radio stations, the industry has the other ways of recruiting more customers. Popular Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, once supported the can on assault weapons. Until recently, as a candidate, he renounced his belief. The gun manufacturer’s and Trump’s influence can be dangerous. Along with trying to recruit customers (such as women and children) at gun shows, vendors started selling “Trump’s Army” T-shirts. This is a complicated issue to resolve because the government can’t simply deport Trump or stop people from assembling conventions. Cooperation among the community is crucial if our nation does not want someone as influential as Trump (and his mind set) to be the spokesman for all the gun enthusiasts in America.
The troubling statistics of gun manufacturer’s profits escalate by millions after shootings and terrorist attacks should have a larger impact on the way we think about gun distribution. Do we really want paranoid citizens to carry guns? As long as both pro and anti gun participants don’t trust each other, it is difficult to predict when gun control efficiency can increase. But with the industry’s influence and cooperation between them, citizens, and the government, efficient gun control is not just an idealistic dream.
Henigan, D. (2002). Gun manufacturers should be held responsible for gun violence. In J. D. Torr (Ed.), Gun violence (). San Diego: Greenhaven Press.
Jusko, J. (2001). Gun industry wins a round. Industry Week/IW, 250(8), 11. Retrieved from http://db24.linccweb.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=4474220&site=ehost-live
Osnos, E. (2016). Making a killing. A Reporter at Large Making a Killing, , 36.